Dundas shooting highlights
emotion of custody battles
|By Craig Campbell, News
28 January 2005
Divorce and custody arrangements
have to be handled much differently,
several observers say, to avoid
the kind of conflict that led
Ruth Anne Willis to shoot her
ex-husband Russell Bailey to death
outside his Dundas home.
Ms. Willis was sentenced to life
in prison, with no possibility
of parole for 13 years, last week.
She had been convicted by a jury
of second degree murder a couple
of months earlier. Her attack
concluded a bitter custody dispute
which had reached an all new level
Larissa Fedak, a Dundas
resident and lawyer
who handles both criminal and
family law cases, followed the
Willis case fairly closely. She
said it was an unusual story,
but reinforces the need for partners
to seek counseling. "The
problem I see in family law cases
is that in some cases the parents
forget to love their kids more
than they hate their ex-partner,"
Ms. Fedak said. "It's hard
to legislate mature responsible
behaviour. It's hard to legislate
and implement a method to help
the parents focus on what's best
for their children, because the
parents get so wrapped up in themselves
and their personal hurt."
Like Ms. Fedak, Brian Jenkins
of the non-custodial parents support
group Father's are Capable Too,
believes mediation and communication
must take precedence over court
dates. "These types of things
happen all the time, unfortunately,
in divorces. That's typical,"
Mr. Jenkins said. "But it's
not typical to shoot somebody.
The whole issue of custody and
ownership creates unreasonable
expectations. It's a winner-take-all
system, where emotion has really
gotten to be a problem."
He agreed with Ms. Fedak in finding
the 13-year parole ineligibility
Mr. Jenkins said mediation is
preferable to a system where the
lines of communication between
parents and children are not open.
People get so upset about going
back to court, they resort to
getting a gun and shooting someone.
"I'm being denied access
to my daughter. I need access
to my daughter," Ms. Willis
could be heard yelling in the
background of a 911 call.
It was her ex-husband, Russell
Bailey, who made the call. He
was speaking to operator Jennifer
Moreton at exactly 11:57 a.m.,
Aug. 21, 2002, from the front
lawn of his home at 63 Watson's
"I have an ex-wife who's
really creating a disturbance,"
"Your ex-wife and you are
arguing?" Ms. Moreton responded.
"Oh, yep. She's trying to
break into the house."
Ms. Willis can be heard in the
background saying: "I am
not." The operator asks Mr.
Bailey if his ex-wife is carrying
any weapons, and if she's been
drinking. "No," he answered.
"She just wants to see her
"Does she have conditions
"No. It's just that her daughter
doesn't want to see her."
"What's your name?"
With the sound of two gunshots,
the line went dead. It was 11:59
a.m. Ms. Willis had retrieved
the gun from the Ruffin's Pet
Store truck, parked in her ex-husband's
Watson's Lane driveway. She had
not carried it to the door, moments
earlier, when she began banging
on the door and demanding to talk
to 14-year-old Torri, the youngest
of two daughters she shared with
Mr. Bailey. In her arms. Ms. Willis
carried a 15-month old baby, fathered
by her new husband Glen Willis
of Crapaud, P.E.I.
Ms. Willis drove the truck, all
the way from the tiny Atlantic
town, when she learned Torri was
about to be in enrolled in Oakville's
Appleby College - against her
mother's wishes. While Mr. Bailey
spoke to the 911 operator, assuring
her Ms. Willis had no weapon,
she strapped the infant into a
car seat, picked up the semi-automatic
pistol loaded with nine shells
and approached her ex-husband.
She fired eight times, hitting
Mr. Bailey five times in the chest,
twice in the neck, and once in
the head as he lay on the ground.
On the ninth shot, the gun did
Const. Jeff Wood was assigned
to clear 63 Watson's Lane. He
entered the home to be sure the
shooter - or any other victims
- were not inside. "When
I arrive in the basement, I found
the children in a room,"
Const. Wood said. Torri, the 14-year-old
daughter of Mr. Bailey and Ms.
Willis hid in the basement with
her two step-sisters and one step-brother,
when her mother began banging
on the door that morning. "I
had a lot of conversation with
Torri Bailey," Const. Wood
said. "She gave me a lot
of information about her mother."
Torri gave the officer information
about her mother's truck, her
licence plate and the address
of her grandfather's Milton
home - where Ms. Willis
was staying. Const. Wood relayed
the details to the police dispatcher.
"She mentioned that her mother
was mad. She was upset about some
things... that (Torri) wasn't
returning to PEI ," Const. Wood said."I got the
opinion that she was torn between
the two, but she wanted to go
to the private school. That she
was looking forward to going,
if she could."
Russell and Ruth Anne were married
in March 1982. They separated
10 years later. Their final divorce
agreement was filed with the court
in July 1996. She was granted
sole custody of their two daughters,
while Mr. Bailey was guaranteed
access every second weekend and
one evening each week. Spousal
support was waived, as both parents
were self-supporting. Mr. Bailey
paid $1,100 a month in child support.
The divorce agreement included
a Parenting Plan which stated:
"They agree both parents
must have access to children and
be involved in their lives."
There also was a relocation clause
which required Ms. Willis to give
60 days notice to her ex-husband
if she moved the girls' primary
residence outside of Halton or
There was some confusion whether
or not that notification actually
took place. But Ms. Willis did
successfully relocate her daughters
to Crapaud, P.E.I. with her new
husband, Glen, in the summer of
2001. "Before graduating
from Grade 8, Torri told her mother
she wanted to return to Ontario
and attend Appleby College ," Justice John Cavarzan said
before announcing the sentence
last week. "Ruth Anne was
adamantly opposed to private school
education." Mr. Bailey's
father offered to send all his
grandchildren to Appleby College . Torri's older sister, who passed
on Appleby due to her mother's
opposition, relocated to Ontario and prepared to
Ms. Willis travelled from P.E.I.
to her father's home in
afraid Torri might not return
to the small east coast town.
While here, Ms. Willis was notified
of a custody hearing to take place
on Aug. 22. Mr. Bailey applied
for full custody, with his daughter's
support. In the early morning
hours of Aug. 21, Ms. Willis loaded
her father's gun and traveled
to 63 Watson's Lane. She entered
the home and stole a phone, and
purse belonging to Judith Bailey,
Russell's new wife.
Ms. Willis returned less than
eight hours later to confront
her ex-husband. According to Crown
attorney Joe Nadel: "She
wanted to kill him to prevent
him from having more influence
on her daughter's life. She hated
this man. "She knew her husband
was going to get custody and she
killed him to prevent him from
Larissa Fedak has been involved
in several divorce and custody
cases. She says the threat of
violence is usually directed from
a man to a woman, and usually
the super-charged emotion subsides
as time passes. But in the Willis-Bailey
case, she observed, the irrationality
and hostility only seemed to increase
as time passed. "The parents
hated each other more than they
loved their kids and again this
is unusual," Ms. Fedak said.
Despite relocation being one of
the most difficult areas of family
law, she noted that Ms. Willis
was able to move the two girls
far away from their father - who
shared very open custody agreement
with is ex-wife.
"The larger the role in the
children's lives of the other
parent, the harder it is to move."
But Ms. Fedak pointed out that
custody is never final. And as
the girls got older, their wishes
would be taken more seriously
by the courts and a court would
probably have looked favourably
on Torri's interest in leaving
and attending Appleby
. "To me, this
is not a choice between the two
parents anymore," Ms. Fedak
said. "Both parents would
have to let go, little by little
as their kids got older."
She explained the family law process
worked effectively for Ms. Willis.
She mitigated, litigated and negotiated.
She was successful in applying
family law to her case. But that
"When she anticipated the
family law would no longer assist,
she took matters into her own
hands. And guess what, Torri still
went to Appleby
." But Sally
Palmer, professor emeritus of
McMaster University 's social work program, doesn't
think the custody fight caused
"The seeds for the murder
are in the violent relationship
that started long before the custody
issue, and it's really impossible
for us to know whether one parent
contributed more to this than
the other," Ms. Palmer said.
"But they were both guilty
of putting their own needs before
those of their two daughters by
engaging in mutual violence."
The Bailey-Willis case is still
far from over. Jeff Manishen,
Ms. Willis' defense attorney,
expects appeals of both the second
degree murder conviction, and
the 13-year parole ineligibility
sentence. The Crown is satisfied
with the decision, though Mr.
Nadel requested a 17-year wait
for parole eligibility. Mr. Manishen
requested a 10-year wait, and
still feels he presented case
law that supported that.
But Mr. Manishen figures there's
enough basis for a new trial for
Ruth Anne Willis. And he believes
that with the extra evidence,
a jury might lower the conviction
to manslaughter. The previous
jury found her not guilty of first
Ellington, CT 06029
The Shared Parenting Council
The Fatherhood Coalition
NATIONAL CLASS ACTION SUIT
Sent to Marshall and Dunphy.moments
-------- Original Message --------
||This is a typical tragedy
created by P & F Courts
in the Commonwealth
||Mon, 14 Mar 2005 02:32:37
||Barbara C. Johnson
||Judge Margaret H. Marshall,
Judge Sean M. Dunphy
This is a typical tragedy created
by P & F Courts in the Commonwealth.
When might we expect a sensitive
statement from the jurists responsible
for making sure that the courts
When might we expect that those
same jurists will make public their
acknowledgment that the problem
exists and is growing incrementally
if not geometrically?
When might we expect that those
same jurists will do something to
effect change in order to remedy
the harm the judiciary has caused?
Has this happened to any
of you? I know this guy, he
needs help in yyyyyyyyyyyyyy
RECAP of last three yearss;
1A. Pre-planned Forced Separation
.......... from a lesbian covert
con-artist, borderline personality
disorder, depressed, controling
ex-wife mother of my now 3.5 yr
1B. Falsified Restraining Order,
............... 2002 - ..............
2. Forced into supervised visits
every other weekend for only a few
3. Forced into a pycho state hospital
for involuntary evaluation and treatment,
that God, my mother got me out of
there. ( I am not depressed nor
insane nor violent in anyway.)
3. Forced out of active duty national
Guard service to inactive reserves.
4. Lost two businesses.
5. Lost two houses and two cars
and $50k in cash assetts.
6. Lost 2 girl friends who could
have been my next wife and may have
started a new family.
7. $80 k in debt.
8. 4 months behind in child support
9. Tried to start a non-profit to
help and aide broken families (),
on hold due to lack of financial
support and resources.
10. Lost all my family and friends
except my mom and grandparents.
11. A private investigator is tailing
me and trying to do whatever to
disrupt my life.
12. Lived out of my car and Van
on food stamps.
13. Lost my son, Who is daddy???
He has no idea! I have no idea of
my son's address or phone #.
14. Denied access to my son's daycare
and medical doctor to see and treat
15. Unofficially lost my religion,
chased out of Roman Catholic church,
(I was a knight of Columbus) and
not allowed to work in daycare or
as a big brother.
Summary not much time left, the
end is near, either need to escape
or do something drastic.
I could write a book that most would
not believe; yet, I am strong, I
will never quit. Help!!
I will not sacrifice my dignity
and integrity anymore!!! Our forefathers
fought and shed blood for much less
than this unjustice.
Barbara C. Johnson
Advocate of Court Reform and Attorney
6 Appletree Lane
Andover, MA 01810-4102
Barbara C. Johnson, Advocate of
Court Reform and Attorney at Law
6 Appletree Lane
Andover, MA 01810-4102
False Allegations: http://www.falseallegations.com
Participating Attorney: http://www.lawguru.com/cgi/bbs2/user/browse.shtml
Campaign 2002: http://www.barbforgovernor.com
The judicial system is very broken.
It must be fixed.
There are four people who can
do the job:
Everybody, Somebody, Anybody,
Everybody thinks Somebody will
surely do it.
It is a job Anybody can do. But
Nobody is doing it.
At least I'm trying. What are
"Women are not men's life
partners, but rivals favored by
Paul Craig Roberts, in "The
Wars We Can't Afford to Lose,"
citing Professor Richard
T. Hise, The War Against Men